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FIFA World Cup

Mbombela Stadium (ATT 38,229) 20th June 2010 - Kick off 15:00

Italy Italy vs New Zealand New Zealand

Italy 1

V Iaquinta (pen 29)


New Zealand 1

S Smeltz (7)

Live Commentary

Last Updated at 7:46 pm, June 20th 2010

  1. NZ take on Paraguay in their final game, Italy tackle Slovakia. Any four can go through in the final round of matches, but NZ will forever saviour this moment. The day they drew with the best team in the world. I hope you've enjoyed it this afternoon - stick around for match reaction and report. Take it easy.

  2. Incredible scenes - the ultimate underdog story. New Zealand are celebrating, they've held the world champions to a draw and they have a great chance of going through. They are level on points with Italy.

  3. 94

    They've done it! Full-time. Take a deep breath: Italy 1. New Zealand 1.

  4. 93

    Time ticking away on the world champions - so, so close to that finishing line. Reid heads away a high, hopeful ball. Wood wins a free-kick.

  5. Andy Barron - a banker by trade - comes on for Killen.

  6. 92

    Italian shirts flooding the box - cross is woefully over hit and the ball is out for a goal kick.

  7. 91

    De Rossi crosses - Paston claims, he's been superb this afternoon. A great all-round keeping display.

  8. 90+

    Four minutes added time to be played.

  9. 90+

    Heart in mouth moment. Zambrotta cuts inside and shoots - Nelsen blocks. Who else?

  10. 90

    There's some very concerned Italian faces in the crowd. Things don't look like they're going to get much better.

  11. 89

    Camoranesi runs toward goal and lashes in a shot - Paston makes another fine save and turns the ball away to keep the scores level.

  12. 88

    Di Natale tries a Gazza style flick over the head of Reid but the defender is wise to it and clears away. Not long left to hold on now. Italy getting desparate.

  13. 87

    Nelsen is booked - I have no idea why.

  14. 86

    Nelsen is down - he's got cramp. Hardly surprising given the effort he's put in today.

  15. 86

    Reid heads away, heroic stuff. Italy have another throw, but Paston claims the cross. Ten out of ten there.

  16. 85

    Lochhead takes a late hit from Zambrotta, should have been a free-kick. Italy break and have a corner of their own instead.

  17. 84

    NZ now attacking - Lochhead swings a ball into Killen but there is too much on it. Great break though from the All Whites, they're having a real go too now.

  18. 83

    NZ nearly stole it! Wood has just wriggled free on the edge of the box and fired a shot narrowly, narrowly wide of the post - what a great effort, so unlucky. Could be a winner here yet and it might not be the world champions.

  19. 82

    Montolivo nears get in but Nelsen is there to sweep up. Italy corner. Very, very tense in these closing stages. Chiellini forces a header wide.

  20. 80

    Vicelich - another solid performer - departs in place of Christie. A like for like swop.

  21. 79

    Camoranesi gets room on the edge of the box but fires wide. He's appealing for a corner but it's a hopeful shout. Di Natale has another go after breaking away from Vicelich but he also can't direct it on target.

  22. 78

    Smith, alongside Nelsen, has also played a blinder. Iaquinta is primed to shoot but the Ipswich player pips it off his toes just in time. Corner.

  23. 77

    The size difference between Wood and Cannavaro is incredible! Little and large combination if ever there was one.

  24. 76

    One way traffic, Italy seeing all of the ball. I wonder how the possession stats read at the moment? Italy free-kick from 35-yards out - Montolivo plays it short but the training ground routine doesn't come off. Paston claims the cross, great keeping.

  25. 75

    15 minutes left - can NZ hold on?

  26. 74

    NZ carry the ball out of defence and ease the pressure. They're doing brilliantly to defend in face of this onslaught.

  27. 73

    Ricki Herbert is out and up from his dugout, not for the first time this afternoon. He felt that should have been a penalty. Jury is out, I'm afraid.

  28. 72

    Everyone's hitting the turf at the moment, about four players down. Reid is motionless in the Italy box, he was caught by Chiellini's arm.

  29. 71

    Cannavaro is penalised for handball, which is sloppy because the blues were really building up the pressure and now NZ can regroup. Nelsen tosses it into the box.

  30. 70

    Excellent save from Paston, who has just flung himself at a 25-yard hit from Montolivo to divert it away. Great stuff.

  31. 69

    De Rossi tosses in a free-kick but Vicelich flings himself at it with a diving header to put it out for a throw. All very last ditch, but it's working so far.

  32. 68

    Wood charges down the channel and holds off Criscito but the linesman awards a free-kick, for some reason.

  33. 67

    NZ are defending like warriors. Using their brawn to keep Italy at bay. Wood uses his stature to win a free-kick, easing the pressure somewhat.

  34. 66

    Pressure on, Italy corner. Wood heads clear.

  35. 65

    Lovely link-up play, with Di Natale sending a looping flick over the NZ defence. Vicelich does just as well and hooks it clear, before berating Wood for not tracking his man.

  36. 64

    Nelsen - take a bow. Just eases Pazzini off the ball so it runs through to the keeper, great stuff.

  37. 63

    Vicelich lets fly with a humdinger of a hit from 30-yards, it flashes just wide of the goal. Would have been a corker of a hit had it been a yard the other way. Best chance of the half.

  38. Another sub - Fallon goes off, possibly for his own good, and on comes 18-year-old Chris Wood.

  39. Pazzini comes on for Italy. Marchisio - ineffective throughout - departs after a quiet afternoon. Italy going for broke now with half an hour left.

  40. 61

    De Rossi finds Iaquinta with a great ball. Striker can't turn and get his shot on target, though.

  41. 60

    Italy are preparing another chance in search of a goal.

  42. 60

    Long throw from NZ coiled in by Bertos, who made an excellent run to gain his team 30 odd yards. Fallon goes up for another header but Criscito goes down despite not being touched - winning a free-kick.

  43. 59

    Fallon gets up and wins a head above Cannavaro - no-one is close to him though and the ball runs loose. NZ need to bodies around the big man.

  44. 58

    Surprise surprise - Nelsen is there to head away. The man is like a magnet to the ball when it's in the air, terrific stuff.

  45. 57

    Lochhead has given away a silly, silly free kick for baring over Camoranesi.

  46. 56

    Montolivo runs at Vicelich and cuts inside but Nelsen - who has had a tremendous afternoon - clears the danger, not for the first time this afternoon.

  47. 55

    NZ get it down though and string a few passes together, which is what they need to do. Italy are good at closing down themselves.

  48. 54

    Head tennis time again.

  49. 53

    Bit sloppy from NZ, who are giving the ball away a bit carelessly at the moment.

  50. 52

    Iaquinta tries a needless backheel and cedes possession with Azzurri building promisingly.

  51. 51

    Great work from Smith, who shifts up a gear to deny Di Natale and clear for a corner. Excellent pace.

  52. 50

    Italy back on top now, seeing plenty of the ball but similar to this first half they're struggling to break down these white shirts.

  53. 49

    Di Natale shows first signs of life, lashing in a volley from the right hand side of the box a la Van Basten. Paston beats it away with two firm hands. Game on.

  54. 48

    Paston wasn't happy with that, a truly awful pass back from Vicelich forces the keeper to slice it into the stands.

  55. 46

    Italy on the back foot a little here, NZ playing in their half.

  56. 45

    We're underway for the second half - Italy do the honours.

  57. 45

    Italy subs - Di Natale comes on for Gilardino and Camoranesi on for Pepe.

  58. Half time! The Battle of Nelspruit is 1-1 at the interval and we've seen some incredible stuff in that opening 45 minutes. Hope you enjoyed it! Stay tuned for the second half.

  59. 45+

    One minute added on - NZ have battened down the hatches.

  60. 45

    Zambrotta takes the ball over the head of Elliott and lashes a shot in, which Nelsen blocks and clears. Long throw from Zambrotta, which is partially cleared before De Rossi hits from distance and forces Paston to make a decent stop.

  61. 44

    Vuvuzelas in full song this afternoon - they're making a great noise and the atmosphere is tremendous.

  62. 43

    Approaching half time and NZ are doing all they can to hold on to parity. If they are to get something today they cannot afford to concede before the interval.

  63. 42

    Pepe is penalised for going over the top of Bertos. Italy can rough it up as well.

  64. 41

    Iaquinta nearly releases Pepe round the corner with a lovely pass round the corner. Reid is strong enough to hold the front man off and Paston can field the danger.

  65. 40

    Marchisio makes his first contribution of the afternoon - fouling Lochhead to give away a free-kick.

  66. 39

    Italy free-kick, 35 yards out and central. De Rossi is looking to loop it towards the back post. That's if the ref will stop playing his whistle - very fussy!

  67. 38

    NZ set up makes it hard for them to keep the ball when they do have it - not many bodies in front of them to play it to.

  68. 37

    Fallons wins a flick on from a free-kick and nearly releases Killen but the referee awards a foul against the big man.

  69. 36

    NZ forwards really getting stuck in. Smeltz, built like a basketball player, involved with Criscito this time.

  70. 35

    De Rossi makes room for a shot but his effort from distance is badly off target.

  71. 34

    This game could fall into a very predictable pattern - all out Italian attack. NZ need to be better of the ball and the rare occasions they do have it.

  72. 33

    Italy attacking with confidence now and they're moving the ball along the floor, which is what they need to do. Small, interchanges of passes. The full backs are kicking on, pushing NZ back into their own half.

  73. 32

    Criscito cuts inside from distance on his 'wrong' foot and the left back sends the ball sailing over the ball. I blame Jabulani.

  74. 31

    Cruel on NZ but it was a spot kick. Ipswich defender Smith was holding his Italian counterpart by the shirt and De Rossi goes down. Great spot kick from Iaquinta - are you watching England?

  75. 30

    Parity is restored - Iaquinta lashes it into the right hand side of the net, sending Paston the wrong way.

  76. 29

    GOAL! 1-1 ITALY! Iaquinta!

  77. Oh dear, trouble here. Smith is tugging De Rossi and he gets booked.

  78. 27


  79. 26

    Montolivo has just rattled the inside of the post. The midfielder gets room from 30-odd yards out and lets fly, with the Jabulani swerving onto the inside of the metal upright. So unlucky, was a great hit and deserved a goal.

  80. 25

    Back to Fallon, who escaped booking there, which is just as well because he'd be off. The tall front man has already been booked and doesn't want to undo his side's excellent work in these opening stages.

  81. 24

    Lochhead is stuck to Pepe like glue in the box and doesn't allow the schemer half an inch to turn and shoot. Meanwhile, Paston comes along way off his line to punch away a cross - good work from the NZ stopper.

  82. 23

    Trouble again for Fallon - he's given Chiellini a nudge now and the defender is down in a heap.

  83. 21

    Good hit from, yes, you guessed it Zambrotta, as he finds room and digs out a fine hit on his right boot from distance. Ball flies just past the angle.

  84. 20

    Zambrotta is Italy's top dog at the minute as he puts in another ball. It's neither here nor there, though, and NZ watch it sail past the blue jerseys arriving in the mixer.

  85. 19

    Cannavaro is down again, gets an elbow from Smeltz this time. He's been in the wars this first 20 minutes.

  86. 18

    Good old fashioned defending from Smith - if in doubt, gerr-it out as the ball goes downfield off the defender's boot. Mind you, there's a lot of long ball from Italy, who are relying on sprayed balls out the wings. All very well and good, looks delicious, however, the wide men aren't doing much with the spherical object once they get it.

  87. 17

    Bertos goes running at Italian Royals Royce Cannavaro and pushes him over, giving away a free-kick. Was a decent, brave run at the defender in the first place so credit to the All Whites' midfield man.

  88. 16

    Italy building a little head of steam here as they win another corner. Smith is doing a grand job at left-back, cutting everything out. Chiellini gets onto a loose ball from the corner but can only volley over - the downside to a centre half getting on the end of a set-piece with the ball near his feet.

  89. 15

    Fair to say Fallon is adopting the let-the-defender-know-you're-there policy. In truth, he didn't do a great deal wrong as he went for an aerial ball against the veteran defender. Ref is having none of it and the big striker will have to be careful for the rest of the match now.

  90. 14

    Fallon goes into the book for tangling with Cannavaro.

  91. 13

    That goal has done the All Whites the world of good. They're now the ones enjoying a bit of possession. Confidence is key, here.

  92. 12

    Trouble at the mill for NZ as Zambrotta goes on another rampaging run forward, however his final ball is - well, truly awful, and the move breaks down.

  93. 11

    Elliott charges down the right, trying to take on left back Criscito. The winger is unfortunate not to find a way past and the Italians are afforded another let off.

  94. 10

    Replays show Smeltz was offside as the ball was flicked into his path. New Zealand will not care about that very much.

  95. 9

    This could be New Zealand's afternoon - Paston, the NZ back-up stopper, has just made a fine stop to turn away a dangerous, bouncing free-kick from deep that threatened to make its way into the net. NZ re-group and clear.

  96. 8

    Incredible scenes here in Nelspruit - just to confirm, New Zealand have scored. The hero is Shane Smeltz, the All Whites top scorer in qualifying. A controversial effort that is harsh on Italy, but this is fairytale stuff. Another threatening free-kick is whipped over from wide left, inswinging, and the ball is nodded down in the bath of the striker, who pokes it past the despairing Marchetti to hand his side an unthinkable advantage. Could the biggest giant killing of all time be on our hands?

  97. 7


  98. 5

    Zambrotta is up like a spring chicken after that blow and rampages down the right. Smith stands up, however, and doesn't allow the right back to find a way past him.

  99. 4

    New Zealand are operating a defensive charge today, getting all men behind the ball when they don't have, which could be quite often this afternoon. Up the other end, Fallon goes up with Zambrotta and the Italian goes down hurt. No malice, though, and play goes on.

  100. 3

    Danger here for Italy as New Zealand win a free-kick out wide on the right. It's floated over and Fallon challenges for it, but Italy are able to clear.

  101. 2

    Italy corner. Referee blows his whistle, spotting something he doesn't like. Ball eventually comes in but New Zealand clear. First storm - weathered.

  102. 1

    Bit of head tennis to start the match. Italy will want to avoid that - the All Whites play a physical game and the Azzurri are at risk of being sucked into a real old battle.

  103. We're underway then, New Zealand do the honours for us.

  104. This could go one of three ways: Italy can open the flood gates and batter New Zealand. Or the minnows can get bodies behind the ball, before eventually crumbling, or earning another almighty shock.

  105. National anthems time, just moments before kick-off now.

  106. If you've called the match result, you can put your money where you mouth is at Italy, as you'd expect, are heavy favourites - 1/5 on to see off the men from Down Under. The draw, which could be a good shout, is 5/1 and New Zealand themselves are way out there to win it at 16/1.

  107. The man in black - or otherwise- is Carlos Batres, who hails from Guatemala.

  108. Here are the names that matter...

  109. Any daydream believers out there who fancy New Zealand today? Or will Italy march and crush the resistance? Either way, let me know your thoughts throughout the afternoon. I can be reached by emailing I'll post the best comments and predictions on the site as the match progresses. The team line-ups and official details will appear shortly.

  110. Italy, of course, are the world champions. Their opponents are a collection of full and part time players, some amateur and some with full time jobs, giving them the making of an FA Cup side. Not to underestimate the All Whites, though - they stunned Slovakia to earn a draw in their Group F opener thanks to Winston Reid's last-gasp header. Turns out the defender only started playing for his national team through an invite from a social networking site. These kids, honestly. Either way, Italy won't be undermining their humble opponents. Azzurri looked laborious in their draw against Paraguay, a shadow of the team they are capable of being. Can the unthinkable happen? We'll soon find out.

  111. Good afternoon everyone and welcome to this afternoon's commentary of Italy versus New Zealand. Is a giant about to be slayed in Nelspruit this afternoon?

  112. Live updates will appear here from 1500 BST



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